Wilfred M. McClay in The Hedgehog Review:
Food is a many-splendored thing, and its meanings too are manifold. It upholds the life of both our higher and lower selves, and most things in between. Indeed, the ways we think about our food might well be taken as a rough index of what we consider those two words higher and lower to mean more generally, and, in turn, of what our conception of that axial division tells about ourselves and the world picture we carry around in our heads.
Of course, there is always a danger of overinterpretation, and the subject of food, like that of music, notoriously lends itself to untethered reflections and inflationary writing. Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar, and sometimes food is just fuel for the body. But that’s true far less often than one might think, and it’s almost never simply and entirely so. As the sunflower turns its face toward the sun, so our experiences with food tend to turn us toward thoughts of things greater than food, borne up by the power of our cultural and spiritual expectations.
To begin with perhaps the most salient examples of this truth, consider the dietary codes imposed by so many of the world’s great religions—Judaism, Islam, and Hinduism, among others.